When Johnathan was about 10 weeks old, he was sitting in his bouncy seat in the living room while Kaylee was getting ready for a school. She was a few feet away in the bathroom – only a wall separated her from being able to see Jeb. I was in the kitchen – a few feet away from her.
She said, “Jeb’s choking on something.”
I said, “What could he possibly be choking on? He’s strapped in his bouncy seat and can’t get to anything.”
Uncomfortable with my response, she went and looked. “MOM! HE’S TURNING BLUE!”
I dropped what I was doing and rushed into the living room. Sure enough, he was blue and unmoving. I unstrapped him and efficiently performed the infant Heimlich Maneuver. A rock the size of Jupiter came flying out of his airway. He gasped, coughed, and started crying — immediately turning from blue to red. Scott (who was newly 2), who usually had a rock (from our flower bed) in each hand and one in his pocket had apparently thought Jeb would like a rock, too.
Kaylee was absolutely hysterical. She’d probably get hysterical right now if I started talking about it. She kept saying over and over to me, “Why aren’t you upset?”
“Because it wouldn’t do any good.”
And that is honestly how I feel about getting upset before, during, or after a situation. What good would it do?
I am like that about everything. I simply don’t react. I remember calling my mom to tell her that we had to put our old dog Maia down. My mom started telling me a story about putting her cat down a little less than a year ago, and started crying. I remember thinking, “What’s wrong with me? Shouldn’t I get as emotional over a dog who has been my loving and faithful companion for 11 years and who will die today?” I tried conjuring up some emotions and just didn’t know how.
I’m the girl you want around you in a crisis. I become very methodical, very level-headed. I have no emotional response to what’s happening and function very efficiently.
The week after Christmas, I left Gregg and the boys and went to Pittsburgh with my parents. My dad was having a pretty major, kind of scary surgery. I stayed with my mom in the hotel, and we spent our days in the hospital.
It’s never easy to see someone you love in pain – especially a parent. You want to take the pain from them and tackle it for them. But you can’t, so you sit, chat with your mom, chat with the nurses, find dopplegangers for the doctors (the cardiologist was no one but Christopher Walken – it was eerie), and try to determine just how much detail of the day to put in that night’s Facebook status.
My mom doesn’t do well in new situations, so during the days we were there, I learned to maneuver a car I’ve never driven before through a city in which I’ve never driven, and find shopping and restaurants as we needed them. I talked to my kids and Gregg on the phone, and communicated with family through email and Facebook.
I’m sure that it should have been a stressful time, but I never FELT stressed. I felt at ease, capable, calm.
My intent was to take advantage of the lack of children and chores and write all week – to spend my evenings and my mornings at my computer, creating blog posts and writing in my current book. But every night, I sat down to that computer and stared at a blank screen. Every morning I’d wake up and not even feel the desire to even check comments on the blog or see if I had any email.
I was exhausted by 8:00 every night. I remember one night looking at the clock, and it was only 6:30 and all I could think was that 39-year-old women don’t go to bed at 6:30 — find something to do.
It occurred to me early one morning that that must be how my stress manifests. It doesn’t come through in my thoughts or actions, but it shuts the creative part of my brain off. And then it totally drains me.
I’ve been home for two days now and I am just now starting to feel some energy return. My dad is home. He is well. My mom is getting to take care of him her way instead of sitting aside while the hospital staff takes care of him, so she is well, too.
It makes me strange – as a woman – to be so functional in high stress times. Stranger still to be so unemotional about highly emotional situations. Kaylee qualifies things with, “If you felt emotions, you’d understand.” (I must REALLY be bad – haha). My sister is convinced that one day all of the emotions that I’ve suppressed will surface at the same time and they’ll find me in a corner, rocking back and forth, sucking on my thumb.
But, I believe that God made me that way for a reason. Hopefully, it won’t be so that I can survive the zombies or something equally apocalyptic. Hopefully, it’s just so that I can be someone my family can count on when they need it.
I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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